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Bridger Raptor Fest takes over Bridger Bowl

More than 2,000 raptors counted in 2018 migration
Posted: 8:58 PM, Oct 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-07 16:07:35-04

BOZEMAN — Josie Cavalier looks forward to Raptor Fest in Bozeman every year.

“My favorite part is when they do this cool thing where you pretend you’re a raptor and you roll this dice and you go around to these different places,” said Cavalier.

The Bridger Raptor Festival is held at the Bridger Bowl Ski area and offers a variety of educational activities ranging from a nest box building station to a binoculars training session.

The Raptor Fest has become a fall tradition for those who love the outdoors and are fascinated by the migrating raptors. And it offers people the unique opportunity to view the raptors close up.

“So often, we see a bird fly by just high in the sky and is like hmmm… some kind of hawk. Who knows?” said Travis Kidd, education committee chair with the Sacajawea Audubon Society.

“But when you’re at Raptor Fest you get to see the diversity and you get to see all difference in all these different raptors.”

The Raptor Festival is centered around the Sacajawea Audubon’s annual count of migrating raptors in the Bridger Flyway, which is known to have the largest concentration of migratory golden eagles.

For the last 28 years, there’s been an annual survey of raptors flying over the Bridgers. Between the months of September and October there are two people that sit on top of the ridge and count the raptor species in migration.

According to HawkWatch, combined species counts typically range between 2,000 and 3,500 birds every season.

The Sacajawea Audubon Society says the Bridger Mountains are an ideal spot for migration because of the free lift the wind provides them.

“So as these raptors are heading south to warmer climates for the winter, they are catching that wind off the mountains and not having to flap a wind the entire time they cruise that 20 miles of the Bridger Mountains,” said Kidd.

The Raptor Festival kicked off on Friday and will continue until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.